Saturday, 30 July 2011

Tea.Love.Cake ~ An afternoon tea experience..

Yesterday afternoon during our 'food shopping marathon'...lol we were pootling along after picking up some lovely items from our health food shop Grain..and saw that a new little cafe had opened up opposite it. At first glance it looked like many others until we read the cafe name...Tea.Love.Cake...now we were intrigued. 

Tea.Love.Cake
My Love is a tea addict...I am a tea cup addict...and we both love an afternoon tea but could it really be true that such a place had opened up in this little nook of the city?? We found ourselves being drawn over to it's entrance like a Mothership was drawing us home..lol. We poked our heads through the door and were greeted by the lovely fresh smell a tea shop should have...not frying bacon and eggs like some I have visited have had. Yuck! So over the step we went...the tea shop was spacious and they had solid wooden tables and chairs and on each table was a small vase of fresh flowers and each table had a different tea service laid out. I thought I had died and gone to tea cup heaven!! 

The Cake Station
On the walls were 'knick knacks' of bygone days but not overly so that it was cluttered...just the right amount. There was also a large poster giving valid reasons for consuming tea...like My Love needed more reasons..lol. There was a side board displaying the cakes and 'sweet treats' they had on sale that day and behind the till was the wall of tea on offer. And it was so nice to see a healthy equal selection of black tea, herbal tea and fruit teas. 

It's not clear but this is the poster giving My Love more reasons to drink tea...Urgh! lol
The menu was simple but offered alot of choice and the prices were reasonable. There were hot offerings of scrambled eggs and other breakfast type options...a sandwich menu...hot toastie menu...jacket potato menu...all with plenty of choice but this wasn't what drew us in. They offered an afternoon tea that consisted of a sandwich, salad, scone, jam, cream and 'sweet treats'. So that is what we ordered and of course that was after my utter indecision about which table we should sit at because I loved all the tea services...lol. 

Choices choices choices...there were many...lol
So we finally sat at our chosen table and the polite and friendly waitress took our order and within minutes we had our pots of tea to enjoy. I chose Chamomile & Spearmint tea..one of my all time favourite teas and My Love chose Rooibos with Strawberry and Vanilla tea...smelt lovely but I am not a rooibos fan. 

Chamomile & Spearmint Tea in a lovely cup and saucer!
We waited 20 minutes for our afternoon tea to be delivered but that just gave us plenty of time to take photos lol. We were stunned when she finally brought the stand over. It was presented with so much care and attention it was worth the wait. On the bottom layer were the perfectly made tea sandwiches...My Loves Cream Cheese and Cucumber and mine were just Cucumber with little bowls of coleslaw on there. A separate plate was brought with the salad of baby romaine leaves, tomatoes and cucumber slices. The next level was the fruit scones that came with a pot of butter, jam and clotted cream. Obviously I had the scone with just the jam and it was delicious. The final and top layer was the 'sweet things' layer. This included a slice of Orange & Chocolate Marble cake, two bitesize slices of different chocolate cakes, a bitesize slice of fruit cake and small bowl that had a bunch of grapes, slices of kiwi and some strawberries. 

Our afternoon tea for two
OK so I couldn't eat some of the offerings...but the bits I could..I enjoyed greatly and My Love said it was "Splendid and very Brief Encounter!" lol. (My Love is quite the romantic! lol)

"I appear to have a piece of grit in my eye!" Or words to that effect! lol
Would we go back again...you betcha. For that hour we were lifted out of our daily existence and transported to a lovely light moment from the past when things were all things tea cup and dainty portions...lol. Thank you to Tea.Love.Cake for a wonderful experience.

Now I must go and ready myself for today as we have all the little lovelies coming for baking and ice cream making and lunch. Busy busy....lol 

Friday, 29 July 2011

Busy busy...

Found this and thought it summed up my week so far...and the weekend to come! lol
I have had a difficult week and I can only hope it gets better...lol. Today we are food shopping as soon as My Love comes home from work..we have a very busy day tomorrow. My sister and her little ones are coming for lunch and playtime and my Mum is bringing our other nephew J to visit too. So we are planning on making Jam Tarts, homemade muffin pizzas and at J's request Strawberry & Choc Chip Ice Cream. My sister has requested Sweet Potato Chilli so that's what we shall be cooking for lunch. It will be chaos and utter madness but I can't wait...I love having the house full...and it's rare to get time with both my sister and my Mum.

Then in the evening we have pals S&S coming for dinner and a movie...so it's homemade Gluten Free pizza and then dessert of either Blackberry Ice Cream or Vanilla Sugar Berry Bowl over vanilla ice cream. Depends on how much time we have left lol. 

Then Sunday we will crash..lol. And My Love will probably go hide in the garden...lol. So I shall be back with recipe blogs from tomorrow...today I just wanted to make you smile...

Hope you all have a great weekend folks.....

~R~

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Are we relaxed? Then I shall begin....lol

I am one of life's insomniacs...always have been. When I was teenager I used to be able to survive on 4 hours sleep a night. I had babysitting jobs that would see me getting home just after midnight and then I would be up by five am to do my paper round and shop work. Then home and race around to get myself ready for school and start my day! lol. I was on all the sports teams available and used to find that the sport recharged my weary batteries every day. But this set in motion a life long struggle to sleep and the less active I am the worse it becomes. 

And now in my late thirties...gosh did I really admit that?? lol. I'm worse than I've ever been. A few years ago I had to admit defeat in finding a natural method of sleeping and accept the help from my doctor who prescribed a sleeping tablet. A very low point for me but I needed to get some rest. The tablet still only gives me a guaranteed four hours of sleep so I still find myself awake some of the night and I'm still trying to find other ways to 'switch off'. 

I am, unfortunately, one of those folks who can't sleep with silence. The quietness kicks my brain into 'thinking overdrive' and it drives me nuts. Although sometimes I've had some great creative ideas come to me in these moments. lol. For years I would have a TV playing in the corner of the room but I hated that it was needed and the energy it was wasting, sat there playing all night. 

Three weeks ago, I made a big change and booted the TV from the room. It was a very liberating experience if not a little scary. We did a complete cleanse of the bedroom and cleared away everything that wasn't necessary in a bedroom. Next to my side of the bed, I set up my Yoga station and next to it a very small DVD/CD player to play my morning Kundalini Yoga DVDs on and at night I use it to play CDs. I have a box full of various CDs to inspire relaxation from a great Zen Garden CD to Classical Compilations, used to aid sleep. In amongst them are some awful Relaxation CDs that have the most horrible keyboard music and I truly don't know what I was thinking when I bought them..lol. On My Loves side of the bed, we have a small 'sound machine' that had been sat gathering dust for a few years. It has been cleaned up and is now in frequent use. 

Classical music always relaxes me..particularly the Cello...
So three weeks later....it's working. For the first two and a half weeks I've been playing the Classical music CD and I have never actually made it through the whole CD so far..lol. And when I wake in the early hours I reach over and hit play and before i know it, I am sleeping peacefully. Great! I am now, also experimenting with these relaxation methods, as a help with my pain control as it's been overwhelming lately. 

Even as a small child I have loved Thunder and stormy weather...Love.It! lol
This morning I lay down and listened to a CD that has a Thunderstorm recorded and I relaxed and enjoyed the sounds greatly but was constantly aware of the pain. And, as I am resting, due to the Docs orders I had no place to be so I tried some of the 'sounds' from the machine next. I flicked through the options...Waterfall...Rain Forest (way too many bugs!!! lol!)...Waves...Rain...and then finally Heart Beat. 

I am now a heart beat convert...the results were amazing...
And if I'm honest I've always dismissed the heartbeat option....until today..I got as comfortable as I could and closed my eyes and was very quickly, very relaxed and the more I concentrated on the beats I felt peaceful (OK I'm not going all hinky here...just reporting the facts..lol) my pain seemed to reduce and I felt myself being pulled into a deep sleep. And when I woke 2 hours later...I felt rested. Who knew?? I should have known, as every baby I've had the blessing to spend time with, has rested when they are close to a heartbeat...


There are other methods for relaxing for me but they are more 'mentally' relaxing then physically. Some are not going to be a surprise but maybe a couple will. 


Meditation
My ability to meditate to relax is a constant learning curve. There are moments when it happens very easily...during a recent trip to a Lavender Farm, I found a lovely seat that looked out over the lavender gardens and the surrounding Yorkshire hills and found I was able to meditate sat on that bench and experienced a blissful state. It takes practice but I feel I am making headway. 

By the beach...this is Westward Ho! Devon
I was born in a beach town and it seems to be very a huge part of who I am. I love to be near a beach...not the crowded touristy kind..but small beaches. My Love shares this 'need' thankfully and when we go on holiday it's usually near a beach. I find peace sat watching and listening to the waves crashing in. My Love is a frustrated surfer who wants the whole package of a surf board, camper van and beach hut. lol. Maybe one day....but the beach is definitely a must for us...The sound machine has a 'waves' setting and it's good but never as good as the real thing..lol.


Rock gigs...they are a passion
Live music...a need...a must...a passion....classical concerts, live pub music, concerts in the park, live theatre shows and in particular rock gigs. I have to have these in my life because it recharges my inner battery and makes the blood in my veins zing. And because of this, I feel incredibly relaxed during and afterward. In fact I just can't find the words to describe how much I need this in my life..lol.


Millerground Waterfall, Windermere
Waterfalls are, to me, the most beautiful and dangerous natural creations. The beauty of them takes my breath away and I find great peace and exhilaration when I'm near them. The smaller ones make me smile and the larger ones excite me. Awesome...


The Great Fred & Ginger
Some of my earliest memories are of my Nan and I sat watching the afternoon matinees together. And I still enjoy the experience now...my Mum bought me the Fred & Ginger collection a few years ago and Shall We Dance is one of my all time favourite movies...it has the glamour, the drama, the dancing and more importantly the laughs. Watching an afternoon movie...is very relaxing to me. 


Writing...as needed as breathing to me..
I wasn't sure if should add this to the list...because when it's going well it's a pure pleasure and greatly relaxing. But when it's not...it's painful and frustrating. I have written since I was five and shall write till the day I die. If I'm not writing..then something is very wrong....


Rain...just looking at this photo I can feel my muscles relaxing lol.
Yes Rain..you have read that correctly. I have always had a fascination with rain. I love sitting watching it. On holiday in Scotland we had a few days when it down poured and I sat with the french doors open with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and watched it rain..for hours. I love the sound of it too. I adore walking in it...I see people running away and diving into doors but to me it's wonderful. Everything about rain fuels me...except when it's coming through our Swiss cheese roof!! Old houses...*sighs* lol


Tea and Espresso Cups Addict....My name is Red and I am an addict! lol
I have an addiction to Tea Cup Sets and also Espresso Sets....I find happiness in finding and buying them. But I never buy full price ones...I wait until they are on sale and buy one. I also like looking in second hand shops for them. My Love often picks them up for me...I have loved them since being a small child and I guess I always will. lol. I enjoy them on many levels...


Vegan Cooking..
And what kind of vegan cook would I be if I didn't add cooking to this list? lol. I find cooking in all it's form deeply relaxing. Again it's simply a passion and I 'have' to cook. So it's frustrating when I'm on rest days. I get great joy from cooking for family, friends and showing the little ones how to cook. I get a very good buzz when people I love are enjoying my creations and it's always worth the effort....except when I have to spend hours rolling dolmades...nope..I do not find them relaxing in the slightest! lol


So these are my ramblings on 'relaxation'...what do you do to relax? 


~R~

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Rocket and Roses Sweet Potato, Ginger and Chilli Soup

Kitchen Play List:  Audioslave Playlist on IPod

"Blustery winds blowing through the house with views of overcast clouds out of every window and the need for blankets to keep you warm during the chilly evenings. We haven't seen the sun for a while...."

Nope not an extract from a winter diary...that actually was our weather yesterday! Here in blighty I think the summer has abandoned us and we are being forced into an early Autumn. It's blinking cold today...you may have picked up on this fact. lol. So when it came to selecting what to cook for my sister and I for lunch...a hearty bowl of hot soup seemed the only option! 

At the weekend I visited a lovely stately home called Castle Howard in Yorkshire and was lucky to have lunch in their restaurant. To be honest there wasn't a choice to be had when it came to selecting my meal but I was intrigued by the Sweet Potato Risotto with Ginger & Chilli. I enjoy a risotto every now and again and I am by no means a risotto purist...if I'm really honest I am far too impatient to cook that many risottos...I leave that to my seemingly never endingly patient Love. But I do tire of restaurant risottos for 'veggies' which consist of a pile of grey sludge like rice with lumps of butternut tossed in. Tasteless and disheartening offerings. 

Sweet Potato is one of my favourite veggies so I sat patiently waiting for it to arrive. And was I surprised...the risotto that was put down in front of me was bright orange...lol...with no shades of grey. The rice grains were plump and delightful...the 'orange' coating was comforting with the creaminess of the Sweet Potato and the heat from the ginger and red chilli. I enjoyed every mouthful and after we had all finished our meal I quickly scribbled down some notes. I intend on making this risotto in the near future and will most definitely post it on here when I've cracked it. 


In my veggie box I had quite a sizable bag of sweet potatoes that My Love had picked up in the reduced section of our supermarket. 60p for 8 sizable sweet potatoes...nice, eh? I had chillies that needed using up but no fresh ginger. So I went to my spices box and pulled out my trusty ground ginger. Inspired by the flavours of the weekend's risotto I set about making up a new soup recipe. 


The results were a comforting bowl of orange goodness. The heat from the ginger and chillies was evident from the first mouthful but not an overwhelming heat...a pleasant warming glow of a heat. My sister enjoyed it and so did I...My Love will be trying it today for lunch but I am fairly confident that it will be devoured lol..as chilli and ginger are off of My Loves 'food heaven' list. 


And...yes..no change in the weather today so I will be tucked around a bowlful too! lol 

Dashed if I couldn't get my photo mojo going today...lol. But here is the bowl of orange heaven otherwise known as Rocket and Roses Sweet Potato, Ginger and Chilli Soup...lol
Rocket and Roses Sweet Potato, Ginger and Chilli Soup Makes 10 servings
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 heaped tsp ground ginger
2 small hot red chillies
3 litres hot veggie stock
6 sm-med sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup of red lentils, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to season, to taste

In a large pan heat the sunflower oil gently then add the onion and garlic and leave to heat through whilst you prep the remaining veggies. After a couple of minutes add the ground ginger and stir to coat the onion mixture and saute until the spice becomes fragrant and warmed through. Taking the two hot red chillies and using scissors, hold them by their stalk and then snip them into the pan...seeds and flesh. Discard the stalks and then stir them into the mixture. Cook, stirring for another minute and then add the veggie stock and stir well. Add in the sweet potatoes and the lentils and stir well to combine. Grind in some black pepper to season and a small pinch of salt. Stir well.

Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover and cook until the sweet potato is very tender and the onions are translucent. Using a stick blender blitz the soup until it's completely smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your taste. Serve...

Enjoy! 
~R~  





Monday, 25 July 2011

Baked Nectarines

Kitchen Play List:  Classic FM Cello Favourites Album

This weekend I needed two desserts that could be made ahead of time and also be light and not too filling. The two choices were a Gooseberry Ice Cream that I made at the request of my Mother-in-law...which was a huge success and I will be posting it on here soon. The other selection was a Baked Nectarine dish from Linda Majzlik's wonderful A Vegan Taste of Greece 

The dessert was easy to prep and the only hardship was one nectarine that really didn't want to give up it's damn stone..lol. Once the filling has had it's two hours soaking, the cavities of the nectarines are filled and then it's baked for 25 minutes. 

The results were a beautifully simple dessert but the opinions around the table were mixed. I loved them...My Love wasn't that keen and my guests were quiet. Hmmmm...lol. I concede that they maybe could've had another 5 minutes in the oven as parts of the nectarines were still crunchy...but I liked that. I loved the intensely almondy and orange filling...so I guess that it all comes down to personal preference, eh? I served ours at room temperature and with a vanilla soy yoghurt for drizzling over as I do with a Baked Pear dessert I make. 

So let me know your thoughts if you try this recipe...am I alone in my liking? lol But I always say...You can't please all of the people all of the time! lol.

Baked Nectarines
Baked Nectarines Serves 4 
(Recipe from A Vegan Taste of Greece/Majzilk)

4 firm nectarines
1 1/2 oz/40g ground almonds
1 1/2 oz/40g sultanas, finely chopped
1/2 oz/15g demerara sugar
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp orange flower water

Put the almonds, sultanas, sugar, orange juice and orange water into a bowl and stir well to combine. Cover and leave to soak in the fridge for 2 hours. 

Cut the nectarines into half and remove the stones. Fill the cavities with the soaked filling and place into a baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 180'F/350'C/Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes until just tender. Serve at room temperature, topped with yoghurt. 

Enjoy! And please let me know if you try this recipe...
~R~
 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Panini with Roasted Veggies and Lemon-Basil Pesto

Kitchen Play List: BBC Radio 2 Alan Carr Show

I have wanted to try this recipe since I bought Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table 

I had two seconds to take this shot before they were eaten! lol.
And I have no reason as to why I haven't made them before but for dinner last night they seemed to be just the perfect meal. We spent the day adventuring at the most beautiful and peaceful Castle Howard in Yorkshire and had a lovely lunch there...I had a rather excellent Sweet Potato Risotto with Chilli and Ginger and it was topped by a few spiced parsnip crisps. We ended the day by calling in at the Yorkshire Lavender Farm and we enjoyed Lavender Scones with Lavender and Blueberry Compote. My friend J had recommended them when she heard we was calling in. Thank you J...because they were very tasty. I have a little bag of culinary lavender to experiment with now too! The lavender gardens and herbs gardens there are a sight to see and it was lovely see thousands of Bees busy doing there work! lol. 

So as we had eaten well during the day I knew we would only want a simple dinner so I roasted the red pepper, courgette and red onions a couple of days before and made the Lemon-Basil Pesto the same day. So all I had to do when we got home was make the salad and assemble the panini's and then put them on the press to cook. 

I made one change to the recipe...C.P-D suggests sliced avocado as one of the fillings and we did buy one but it was a solid as a brick so I subbed it for a smattering of grated cheeze. (Soy on mine and diary on the others) The salad I served it with was a simple mixed bag of leaves with sliced cucumber, radish, celery and cherry tomatoes. 

The results were a richly flavoured panini and so delicious...I will be making these again for sure! lol. And it hit the spot perfectly. My Love has already asked when we are having these again so I may try them out on my sister next Saturday! lol. 

A little effort in preparation but done over a couple of days...it's no big deal. But a huge pay off in the end. I hope you try these....

Panini with Lemon-Basil Pesto  Makes 4 servings
(Recipe from The Vegan Table/Patrick-Goudreau)

For the pesto:
2 cups/80g loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled (Don't worry they mellow really well!~R~) 
1/4 cup/35g pine nuts
Salt to taste
2 tbsp/30ml olive oil
2 tsp/10ml fresh lemon juice

For the panini:
2 medium-size roasted and peeled red peppers, cut lengthwise into strips
3 courgettes, sliced and roasted
2 medium red onions, sliced and griddled
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced or 4 tbsp of grated Soy Cheeze
8 large slices of italian bread or 4 individual panini's
2 tbsp/30ml balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the pesto place all the ingredients into a mini blender and blitz until smooth. If storing...container with airtight fitting lid in the fridge..will keep for two days. 

To make the panini lay out the slices/panini halves and spread the pesto on one side. Layer the roasted/griddled veggies on next and follow with the avocado/cheeze. Season with salt and pepper and then lay the tomato slices on top. On the 'lid' drizzle the balsamic vinegar but don't drench! lol. Then place the lids on top of the bottoms and press down gently. 

Place onto a heated Panini Press or a heated skillet. In a press leave to heat through...approx 4-5 minutes and if using a skillet press down with the back of a spatula and then carefully flip them over and cook for approx 2-3 minutes per side. 

Serve with salad and eat immediately.

Once again to C.P-D for a fantastic recipe...

Enjoy! We did...
~R~

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Briami with Spinach & Tomato Salad

Kitchen Play List: Thunder ~ 20 Years and Out Live Album

This week we have My Love's parents are visiting so yesterday I spent most of the day in our kitchen cooking and prepping for the weekend. But as I was still floating on my 'rock chick' cloud I was quite happy. But for our evening meal last night, I wanted something I could cook ahead of time and then heat up when we were ready to eat. I had planned the menu's on Thursday and had turned once again to two of my favourite cookbooks...C.P-G's The Vegan Tableand once again to Linda Majzlik's A Vegan Taste of Greece 

Briami is a simple dish of sliced potatoes layered with courgettes, peppers, mushrooms and a tomatoey sauce. It is very simple to make and reheated very well. I reheated it with the lid off and the potato layer on the top got lovely and toasted. lol. I served it with the Spinach & Tomato Salad that has a lovely olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, garlic and white wine vinegar dressing. I threw in some mushrooms for good measure.  

Spinach & Tomato Salad
Spinach and Tomato Salad
(Recipe from A Vegan Taste of Greece/Majzilk)

4oz/100g fresh tender spinach
4oz/100g cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 dsp lemon juice
1tsp white wine vinegar
pinch of ground cinnamon
black pepper
walnuts

Put the spinach, tomatoes and spring onions in a large bowl. Mix the garlic with the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and cinnamonm season with black pepper and add to the salad. Toss thoroughly, then spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with walnuts. 

Briami ~ Hot out of the oven. Black bits are chopped black olives...not charcoal! lol
Briami
(Recipe from A Vegan Taste of Greece/Majzilk)

2lb/900g potatoes, peeled and sliced
8oz/225g courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
4oz/100g red pepper, sliced
4oz/100g mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
14oz/400g chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried, (I didn't add this as I don't like it ~R~)    
1tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp fennel seeds
black pepper
grated vegan cheese 
chopped black olives

Cook the potato slices in boiling water for 5 minutes and then drain. In a pan heat the 1 tbsp of the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes, red wine, lemon juice, herbs and fennel seeds. Season with black pepper and stir well. Layer the potatoes, courgettes, peppers and mushrooms with the tomato and onion mixture into a deep earthenware casserole dish...drizzling with the remaining olive oil after each layer. Finish with a layer of potatoes and bruch them evenly over with remaining oil. 

Cover with the casserole lid and bake in a preheated oven at 180@f?350'C/Gas Mark 4 for about 1 hour until the veggies are tender. Sprinkle the vegan cheese and chopped black olives and serve. 

To reheat place back into a heated oven and bake until the potatoes are lovely and brown. 

Briami layers...delish!
Enjoy!
~R~
 

Friday, 22 July 2011

Food Shopping?? No no no! Rock Gig?? Yes yes yes!!! lol

Play List:      The very excellent Thunder & rockin Skin


Well last night was a surprise! lol. I got in the car expecting to go food shopping for My Love's parental visit only to be find out I was indeed heading out to Rock City..a fantastic rock music venue that I have spent a large portion of my life visiting....be it just for the night club or watching many of my favourite rock bands...so many hours spent dancing like a loon, drinking copious amounts of Jack Daniels and singing until my throat bled! lol. Ah my misspent youth..I wouldn't change a thing. I have many fond memories tied up with Rock City...so many! 


The Legend that is Rock City ~ Nottingham
With my health being...well..not good...I struggle to gig like I used to. It's a very big shame as live music makes my blood zing like nothing else on earth. My Love chose to surprise me because last year I had a horrible experience at a gig in York where I made it through the support act but two minutes after The Union came on stage...I collapsed and had to leave shortly after. Very humiliating and very annoying...and I missed out on a fantastic gig. Dammit. I have been resistant to even try thinking about gigs since then and the thoughts of even trying brought me out in cold sweats. But My Loves plan worked and we got there in good time and the queue to get in moved fast and before I knew it I was inside the venue and had a seat and was excited and nervous...I was giddy with happiness at the thought of seeing two of my all time favourite bands again. 


Thunder are my all time favourite band. I have followed them for 20 years and if they keep going I will follow them for another 20! They are a good old fashioned rock band that have an amazing lead guitarist called Luke Morley who is also the song writer. His lyrics are poetry and his music is amazing. He is my all time favourite musician. Danny Bowes is the singer and his voice is strong, melodic and just plain awesome and his voice has gotten me through many hard times. He eases me. So the two of them together...well I'm a happy camper!! lol. To me they are what rock music is about. Not metal, thrash or any of that...good quality rock music. 


Thunder ~ As they were in the beginning...lol
They burst onto the stage last night and lifted everyone up and kept us there until they left us. They were fantastic...so together and every song was divine. I don't care if I sound like a mad fan...because I am. lol. I was up dancing, singing, smiling and nothing was going to stop me. Not my useless body or any of the people around me. I wrung out every second of the gig and was still smiling in the car on the way home! lol 


Thunder ~ As they are today...a little greyer but still as awesome!
Thunder 'retired' in 2009 after 20 years together but still get together to play the odd gig. I was really sad when they announced their retirement. Mr Morley has formed a new band called The Union and it's a more bluesy rock feel to it. Also very good! But both My Love and I agreed on the way home that watching Mr Bowes take command of the audience and his fantastic voice...how could he even think about retiring...he is too good to retire. His voice is still strong and he can still hit the notes and as a showman he still has 'it'! I'm just glad I was there. Thank you guys...


Thunder ~ Couldn't resist one more pic. lol

Skin I have enjoyed many hours listening to their music and attending their gigs...but many years ago. I heard through Classic Rock magazine that last year they were doing a 'farewell' tour with their greatest hits. I was very sad to be too ill at the time to attend. I had followed the tour online and felt very old when photos of the guys came up. Had we all aged that much? lol. I was very happy to be seeing them again last night and was excited to hear that they weren't over and they were releasing a new album so the farewell tour obviously went very well..lol. The front man Nev MacDonald has always been Skin to me. If I was writing a 'rock god' character in one of my stories, they would be based on him. He oozes rock from every pore. He is tall and buff...he has long dark curly hair...a killer smile...cheeky laugh and his voice is deep and powerful. When he is onstage he is puppet master and the audience is his to control. And he still has all of those qualities and I enjoyed every second of it. 



Skin ~ Back in the day
Skin like Thunder have a good mix of meaningful and thought provoking songs and good rock ballads. But also a good mix of cheeky rocking songs..like Look But Don't Touch and House of Love. As I was watching the guys do their thing a memory of being up dancing on a table at a gig many years ago...so much Jack Daniels was responsible for that! lol. Honest! Ahem! lol 


Skin ~ Serious rock faces lol
So I look forward to Skin's new Album and hope that they tour again although I think My Love would be more than happy for me to go with someone else...I think Skin are a little too Rour-ock! But that's ok...we have very different musical taste...very different. lol. And I hope that Thunder keep doing these last minute surprise gigs...it was so very good for the soul to see them live again. 


Although I wasn't Jack fueled like back in the day, I managed to dance, sing and scream through the entire Thunder set and most of Skin's but then my body started to signal that it was ready for a rest. Very frustrating but I had the best time and had a 'coat hanger' smile the entire evening and all the way home...so I'm told. lol. 


So thank you My Love for a lovely surprise...I needed that evening. It reminded me of how music is a necessary need for me...more than a passion. It fuels me and I had forgotten that simple fact. And today my body is hurting and I have a lot of kitchen work to get through...I shall be playing my albums very loud and probably will still have that silly 'coat hanger' smile....this aging rock chick is a very happy chick today! lol 


~R~
                       

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Dreena's Blueberry Carob Pancakes

Kitchen Play List:  Andrea Bocelli ~ Vivere Album

There was something almost ethereal happening in my kitchen this morning. With Andrea singing to me as I mixed pancakes for our breakfast...lol. My Love was in need of some serious cheering up today and pancakes for breakfast usually help put that smile back on that lovely face. I was also trying out a new found recipe and was very excited about it...I found this recipe when cruising through Dreena Burton's fantastic Eat, drink and be vegan 

I had to re-read this recipe a few times before I accepted that there was no 'sugar' for these pancakes. The only sweetness comes from the blueberrys...excellent if you have to restrict your sugar intake people! The pancakes were easy to mix up and although I was a little shocked by how thin the batter was...they cooked really easily and quickly and I didn't need the several minutes suggested in the recipe. And they also smelt delicious whilst they were cooking...and when the blueberries started to pop it added to the heavenly feeling surrounding me in the kitchen! lol. 

The results were a very tasty and light pancake. Personally I'm not a big 'sweet' breakfast fan...I love my savoury...but these were delicious as they weren't full of sugar or covered in sugary toppings. I served them with more blueberries and then made a very quick Banana Fluff drizzle which is one frozen banana and some soya milk...blitzed until smooth. It worked perfectly. 

More importantly My Love smiled the entire time they were being eaten! lol. I have a feeling I shall be making these often...lol. 

Thank you to Dreena Burton for another fab recipe! 

A stack of Blueberry Carob Pancakes with Banana Fluff Drizzle and more fresh blueberries..you can never have too many Blueberries! The humble opinion of my nephew M..lol

Dreena's Blueberry Carob Pancakes Made 14 sm-med pancakes
(Recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan/Burton)

1 cup spelt flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp carob powder
1 1/2 cups of vanilla non dairy milk (I used soya with a dash of vanilla extract ~R~ ) 
1 tbsp canola/sunflower oil
1 cup fresh blueberries plus extra for scattering

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Sift in the carob and baking powder and mix well. In a jug mix the milk and the 1 tbsp oil. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Just before cooking gently stir in the blueberries. 

Heat a large skillet/crepe/frying pan and using a piece of kitchen towel wipe the pan with a little oil. Heat the pan over a med-high heat and using a small ladle, spoon three separate scoops of batter into the hot pan. (My ladle is a small 50m/ 1/4 cup measure)

When the pancake has bubbles forming and the edges have turned a deeper colour you should be able to flip them over. It only took a couple of minutes on each side...and I got 14 out of the mix. When all are cooked and the banana fluff is blitzed...stack onto a plate...drizzle with banana fluff and drop a few blueberries over the top. Serve immediately. 

Enjoy eating these...we did! 
~R~
 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Breakfast ~ Vegan Sausage, Lettuce and Cherry Tomato Sandwiches

Kitchen Play List:  BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show

Usually during the weekdays we have a glorious green smoothie but My Love is off work for the week so we have been trying new recipes. This morning we needed a breakfast that could be thrown together quickly and keep us filled up for a few hours. So I turned to our trusty stash of homemade frozen vegan sausages. I simply dry pan fried them until toasty and then served them with a very simple lettuce and cherry tomato combo. The bread I used was a new bread that has been launched this week and I have to say they were very tasty..bread thins they are called. But I confess I did miss my wholemeal rolls. Maybe this girl isn't for changing? lol. 

Uhuh they were as tasty as they looked! lol
Up close is My Loves Italian Feast sandwiches and in the background is my Chorizo sandwiches. And blimey were they spicy today...lol. The recipes for both sausages can be found under the Brunch labels or you could get them by buying Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch 

OK I am away to watch Harry Potter...things you do for love? lol

Happy Cooking!
~R~
 

Monday, 18 July 2011

Cauliflower & Macaroni Florentine

Kitchen Play List:  Joe Loss & Orchestra ~ The Stripper
                                      Prince ~ Get Off
                                      Enrique Igleslas ~ Could I Have This Kiss Forever
                                      Colbie Caillat ~ Midnight Bottle
                                      Extreme ~ More Than Words
                                      Skid Row ~ Slave to the Grind

I'm back...I think?! Still feeling a little shaky but I am present. lol. I made this lovely and comforting dish for lunch on Saturday when my sister and her little one's came to visit. It's wholesome, tasty and packed with things that are good for you. Don't tell my nephew M...lol. But he actually ate his little 'taster' serving...had some of his Mums and then had some more when he was in the kitchen with me after. I think it was a hit. lol. 

The cauliflower, spinach, onions, garlic and tomatoes all merge together to make this delicious. And although I use a wholewheat macaroni, it works just fine with gluten free pasta. The topping of breadcrumbs mixed with soya parmesan and dried parsley just add another level of flavour and texture. And once again...made with gluten free breadcrumbs is equally as good. 

This recipe is from the talented Linda Majzilk's A Vegan Taste of Italy 

Majzilk asks for 2oz vegan mozzarella to be added and to be honest I have made it this way and it was nice but it really wasn't needed. So now I make it without. So I'll put her recipe in full and leave it up to you...

Hot out of the oven ~ Cauliflower & Macaroni Florentine
Cauliflower & Macaroni Florentine
(Recipe from A Vegan Taste of Italy/Majzilk) 

1lb/450g cauliflower, cut into bitesize florets
14oz/400g tin of crushed tomatoes
8oz/225g frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
4oz/100g wholewheat macaroni
2oz/50g vegan mozzarella, grated - optional
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 dsp freshly chopped marjoram or 3/4 tsp dried
pinch of grated nutmeg
black pepper
4fl oz/125ml veggie stock

2oz/50g breadcrumbs
2 rounded tbsp vegan parmesan
1 dsp dried parsley

Heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until softened. Add the cauliflower and veggie stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently until the cauliflower is just tender. Remove from the heat and add the crushed tomatoes, spinach, mozzeralla, tomato puree, marjoram and nutmeg. 

Cook the macaroni until 'al dente', drain and add to the mixture. Season with black pepper and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a shallow baking dish.

Mix the topping ingredients and spread evenly over the top. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 180'F/350'C/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes until golden brown. 

Not the most attractive dish when served...but sure is tasty! lol
This recipe serves four good portions and I have doubled and tripled this recipe when cooking for a large gathering...and it really works well. Doesn't lose any flavour at all. 

Enjoy! 
~R~